Edward VI, King of England (1537-1553) was the only legitimate son of Henry VIII, who broke away from the Catholic Church in order to obtain a divorce from his wife after twenty years of marriage had produced only one daughter, later Mary I. Henry was always a deeply religious man and despite launching the English Reformation, remained in faith and practice a Catholic to the day he died. However, he allowed both Edward and his other daughter Elizabeth to be educated by Protestant tutors.
Under the influence of Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury and leading Protestant reformer who write the Thirty Nine Articles and the first Book of Common Prayer, Edward turned out to be a religious firebrand. Intellectually precocious and convicted by the certainty of youth, Edward became King at the age of nine and during the seven short years that he reigned, with his encouragement his regents turned the Church of England from a Catholic church which merely rejected papal supremacy to one which was institutionally Protestant. Had Edward not unexpectedly died in 1553 from tuberculosis at the age of fifteen, the Elizabethan religious settlement which has seen off Catholic and Protestant extremists for nearly four hundred years may have turned out rather differently.
As part of his French studies, Edward had been translating passages of the Bible which addressed idolatry. In 1548, he embarked on a full-length treatise, also in French, which he titled Alencontre Les Abus Du Monde (Against the Abuses of the World) in which he condemned the papacy and defended protestant ideas. The final version was presented to the Duke of Somerset, Edward’s uncle and Lord Protector, as a gift in 1549. Edward was twelve years old.
Many years ago, I was watching a documentary about the Tudors in which the presenter showed a copy of this manuscript commenting that Edward’s tutor had marked it telling him to tone it down in several places. I think the purpose of this clip was to emphasise the religious implications for the country but what I took from it was that the state of modern education is highly unambitious. When I was twelve, I wrote two page essays on Northern Lights, not 10,000 word analyses of the doctrine of papal supremacy.
While reading an article on home education recently, I was reminded of this work by Edward VI and decided to track it down to read it and see if it was actually any good. I think it is. This took me quite a long time and as is now customary, having gone to this much effort, I have uploaded the full text to my own website to make it easier for the next person.
A completed copy is held by the British Library under the reference Add MS 9000. The completed gift that was presented to the Duke of Somerset is held by the University of Cambridge, Cambridge, University Library, MS Dd.12.59.
This manuscript was discussed in the following book:
Diarmaid MacCulloch, Tudor Church Militant: Edward VI and the Protestant Reformation (London: Allen Lane–The Penguin Press, 1999), pp. 26-27, 31 (fig. 11), p. 226 (ns 41 and 47).
I suspect that this reference is how it came to the attention of the researchers of the documentary that I saw.
The treatise was then translated and published in English in 1682. I am unclear by whom exactly but to judge by the title, I assume a Protestant tract society:
K. Edward the VIth his own arguments against the Pope’s supremacy wherein several popish doctrines and practices, contrary to God’s word, are animadverted on, and the marks of anti-Christ are applied to the Pope of Rome / translated out of the original, written with the King’s own hand in French, and still preserved ; to which are subjoined some remarks upon his life and reign, in vindication of his memory, from Dr. Heylin’s severe and unjust censure.
Edward VI, King of England, 1537-1553.
London: Printed by J.D. for Jonathan Robinson, 1682.
This is the version handed down to us and is replicated across several other archives available on the web, but due to their intention to preserve a printed manuscript, these texts are paginated and retain several aspects of the printed work which make it difficult to actually read.
I obtained my copy of this text from a quite strange Christian apologetics website whose domain name and other content is rather off-putting and in some places quite offensive. I have linked to them out of respect for the work they did in formatting this translation, updating some of the archaic spellings and adding some helpful textual references in brackets, but have removed their commentary and formatted it further myself.
A Small Treatise Against the Primacy of the Pope
Edward the Sixth, by the grace of God, King of England, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, and on Earth after God, Head of the Church of England and of Ireland.
To his most dear and well beloved Uncle, Edward Duke of Somerset, Governour of his person, and protector of his Kingdoms, Countries, and Subjects.
After having considered (my dear and well beloved Uncle) how much they displease God who waste all their time on the follies and vanities of this world, spending it in trifling Sports and Diversions, from whence comes no profit or benefit to themselves, or mankind ; I have determined to employ myself about the doing something which will be (as I hope) profitable to myself, and acceptable unto you. Having then considered that we see many Papists not only curse us, but call and name us Hereticks, because we have forsaken their Antichrist and its Traditions, and followed the Light which God hath been pleased to afford us; we are inclined to write something to defend us against their contumelies, and lay them (as it is just) upon their own Back. For they call us Hereticks, but Alas ! they are so themselves, whilst they forsake the pure voice of the Gospel, and follow their own imaginations, as is most evident from Boniface the Third, who thought (when he was made the universal Bishop) that that falling away which St. Paul speaks of in his second Epistle to the Thessalonians, and second chapter, had happened to himself.
For Saint Paul saith, We beseech you brethren, by the coming of our Lord, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or he troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means ; for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that Man of Sin be revealed, the Son of Perdition; who exalteth himself above all that is called God, so that he, as God, sitteth in the temple of GOD, &c.
Notwithstanding he followed his own proud imaginations and fancies, and did not forsake his errors, which he knew to be very wicked.
Considering then by your life and actions, that you have a great Affection to the divine word, and the sincere Religion ; I dedicate the present work to you praying you to take it in good part. GOD give you his perpetual grace, and show his benignity upon you for ever.
From our Palace at Westminster, in London, this last day of August, 1549.
A Small Treatise Against the
Primacy of the Pope.
We may easily find and perceive by the experience of the world, that human nature is disposed to all evils, and entangled by all manner of vices. For what nation is there in the earth in which there is not some vice, and many disorders? And principally in this age because now there is such an exaltation of the Great Empire of Antichrist : which is the source of all evil, the fountain of all abomination, and true son of the devil. For when God had sent his only Son to heal our infirmities, and to reconcile the world unto himself by his death, the devil instantly changed the institutions of Christ into human traditions, and perverted the Holy Scriptures to his purposes and designs, by his minister the Pope. And therefore if the Astrologers (who maintain that all things shall return to their own element) say a truth, the Pope shall descend into hell: for he cannot belong unto God, or be his servant, whilst under the pretence of Religion and the command of God, he usurps unto himself the authority of Christ, as appears in all his works.
Therefore it seemed best to me in this little book, first to condemn the Papacy and afterwards the doctrine of the said Pope. Though I am not ignorant that it is a difficult task, because there are many that will contradict it : notwithstanding we will condemn the Supremacy of the Pope, from the following Reasons.
The First Part.
First then, whereas the papists say, that Rome is the mother of all other churches, and therefore the bishop of Rome ought to be superiour to all other bishops, I answer that it is impossible, because the first promise was made unto the Jews : And Rome was heathen when Jerusalem was Christian ; for St. Paul writing to the Romans, says (Rom. xi.) through their fall, salvation is come unto the Gentiles. And because the papists cannot prove Rome to have been the mother of all the other churches, they therefore say the bishop of Rome hath received his power from St. Peter : to whom had been given the same Authority with Christ, and remains in the said bishop of Rome to this day, which they endeavour to prove out of these following texts (Mat. xvi.) Thou art Peter, and upon this Rock I will build my church, saith Christ, and a little after, And I will give thee the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven; And they allege that other place of Scripture, where Peter says to Christ, Lord, thou knowest that I love Thee: saying that he that loves Christ is the chief, and Peter loving Christ, more than any of the other apostles loved him, is therefore the chief and principal of the apostles. Again, they affirm that he only was commanded to feed the sheep of Christ, and be the fisher of men, and that he was the first speaker, and made answer to Jesus (Luke xxii.). Behold here are two swords : from whence the Papists conclude that Peter had a temporal and a spiritual sword. They allege also some human reasons, that as the Bees have one King, so all Christians ought to have one Pope. And that as there was of old amongst the Jews (Exod. iv.), a principal priest or bishop (as Moses and Aaron), so now it is necessary there should be a bishop of the bishops.
Here are two great falsehoods in these few words : the one is, that the authority and supremacy over the Church was given to St. Peter ; the other that Peter was at Rome. To the first, where they say that the authority was given him by these words. Thou art Peter, &c., I answer that if you remark the preceding and following words (Mat. xvi.) in that chapter of the Gospel, you will find that Christ did not speak of Peter, as he was barely a man, but as he was a believer : for the foregoing words are, how Peter had said. Thou art the Son of God: by which it is evident that Christ did not say that Peter was the foundation of the church, but spake of the faith of Peter. The following words declare how Christ called Peter satan, but the church of God is not founded upon satan, therefore it is not founded upon Peter : for if the church was founded upon St. Peter, it would have a weak foundation, and, like that house, a sandy foundation that could not stand long (Mat. vii.) but the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house, and it fell. In like manner would the Church fall, if it had so poor a foundation. By which one may see from these words in the text, Thou art Peter, and upon this, stone will I build my church, must not be understood of Peter, but of the faith of Peter ; upon which the church is founded. For he was a frail and weak vessel, who denied Christ thrice.
Their second text is, that the keys of heaven were given to St. Peter (Mat. xvi.). To which I answer that the keys were given not only to Peter, but also to the other apostles. And by this argument I answer that he was not principal, because the rest received the same authority of the keys that was committed to him. On which account St. Paul calls St. Peter (Gal. ii.) the pillar, not the foundation of the church ; his companion, not his governor. And what are the keys of heaven, the authority of pardoning sin? No, it is the preaching of the gospel of God the Father, the gospel, I say, of God, not the Pope’s or devil’s. And as when a door is open, every one who will, may enter therein ; to whom God sent his sincere commandments and gospel, he opened truth, which is the gate of heaven. And he gave unto him an understanding of the Scriptures, which, if they obeyed (2 Cor. ii.) they should thereby be saved. By which we see that the gospel and the truth of the Scriptures are the only gates that conduct men to the kingdom of God. Whence St. Paul says (Rom. x.) Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall he saved. How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And a little after he saith, So then faith Cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. And in the fourth chapter to the Romans he also saith (Rom. iv.) But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Moreover we will prove that the preachingof the gospel is the key of heaven. In the eighth chapter to the Romans, Paul affirms that, Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved ; and that the preaching of the gospel is the door that leads to the invocation of the name of God. Whence it follows, that the preaching of the gospel is the way and entrance of salvation.
Again, Paul affirms that faith justifies, and that the preaching of the gospel causes faith (which I have shewn before) whence it follows that the true preaching of the Word is the door and entrance to justification. Like as ground which is sowed may produce fruit, if the seed be not cast into the ground which is full of thistles, or thorns, or stones (Mat. xiii., Mark iv., Luke viii.) and yet although it be sowed on such ground, it will a little meliorate the earth. So if the word of God be sowed in the hearts of honest people, or such as have a zeal for truth, it will confirm them in all goodness ; but if any be obstinate and perverse they cannot impute the fault unto the Scriptures, that is really in themselves.
Therefore we ought to do our utmost endeavours to cause the gospel to be preached throughout all the world, as it is written (Matt, xxviii., Mark xvi., Luke xxiv.) All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth; go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in my name.
Since, then, it is proved that the keys of heaven is the authority of preaching, and that the authority of preaching was given to all the apostles, I cannot see how, by that text (Mat, xvi.) any more authority was given to Peter than to the other disciples. And St. Paul says, he was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles. Then, if he said true, St. Peter was not above him. And, if I were asked which of them was the better, I should say Paul, because he preached more than them all. But we ought to account certainly that the Spirit of God was poured out upon them all (Gal. ii., Acts ii.) and that the same spirit of God which filled St. Peter, filled also St. Paul, from whence may be proved that neither of them was superior to the other.
Again, the Papists say that after Christ was raised from the dead, he asked (Joh. xxi.) who loved him, and that Peter answered, he loved him, and therefore (say they) he was the chief apostle. By which reason every good man ought to have the supremacy over every other, because each good and pious person loves God; for it is the duty and office of every true Christian. Now the question is not, whether Peter was faithful, pious, good, a holy and true Christian; but whether he was principal, head, governor, and king above and over the rest of the apostles and ministers of Jesus Christ? For if the Pope would have the authority of St. Peter, which was to preach, I would be content to give it him; but he regards but little the precept of God (Joh. vi.) for Jesus departed into a mountain alone; when he perceived the Jews would make him a king and emperor. And the Pope, by wrong, or violence, or deceit, hath made all nations subject unto him.
Jesus wore a crown of thorns, and a purple robe was thrown upon Him in derision, and all the multitude mocked and spit upon Him; but the Pope decks himself with a triple crown, and is adored by kings, princes, emperors, and all estates of persons. Jesus washed his disciples’ feet (Joh. xiii.); and kings kiss the feet of the Pope. Jesus paid tribute (Mat, xvii.); but the Pope receives, and pays none. Jesus opened his mouth and taught the people (Mat. v.); the Pope takes his ease, and rests in his Castle of St. Angelo. Jesus healed all diseases (Luke vi.); the Pope rejoices in blood andmassacres. Christ bore His cross upon His shoulders (Joh. xix.) ; the Pope is borne upon the shoulders of men. Christ came with peace and poverty into the world; the Pope delights in stirring up war amongst the kings and princes of the earth. Christ came meekly, humbly, and compassionately, sitting upon an ass (Mat. xxi.) ; but the Pope rides in all pomp and splendour. Christ was a lamb (Joh. i.) ; the Pope is a wolf. Christ was poor (Luke ix.) the Pope would have all christian kingdoms under his power and command. Christ drove the money-changers and sellers out of the temple (Joh. ii., Mat. xxi.) ; the Pope receives them in. Jesus instituted the sacrament in commemoration of Himself (Mark xiv., Luke xxii.); the Pope formed the mass, a master-piece of imposture. Jesus ascended into heaven (Mark xvi.) ; and the Pope falls into hell. God hath commanded that we should have no other God but Him (Deut. vi., Exod. xx.) ; and the Pope makes himself to be honoured like unto a great god. God forbids us to commit idolatry (Mat. iv.); and the Pope is the author of image worship. God hath prohibited swearing in vain (Exod. xx.) but the Pope allows his friends perjury. God hath commanded the use of festivals in good works, prayers, and devotions ; but the Pope allows pomp, games, idleness, mimicry to be exercised on those days in churches. God hath forbidden murder, and killing any person ; and it is a matter of great compassion and sorrow to see how cruelly the Pope persecutes Christians. God foretold this persecution in the four-and-twentieth chapter of Matthew (Mat. xxiv.) Many false prophets, says Christ, shall arise at that time ; and because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold ; but the gospel shall be preached in all the world ; when ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains.
And is not this come to pass now? Yea, for there are many wolves in sheep’s clothing, who, under the pretence of religion, obscure the true doctrine of Christ ; and almost all abominations were introduced into the holy place, that is to say, brought into the church of God.
But to return to our matter, God hath forbidden adultery ; notwithstanding the Pope, who will be obedient to his father the Devil, commands his priests to keep concubines and harlots, rather than give themselves to any in marriage. God hath forbidden stealing from either man, woman, or child ; but the Pope is such an old thief that he robs even God of his honour, and transfers it to himself. God hath forbidden bearing false witness against any one ; but the Pope cries all is good grist which comes to his mill. God hath commanded us to be content with what is our own, but the Pope will have every house pay him a tribute. To conclude, he is in every thing opposite to God. But I cannot blame him, for he fulfils the command of Paul, which says (Eph. vi.), Children obey your parents : and the Demon of hypocrisy is his father, to whom he pays all obedience. The Devil walketh about as a roaring lion (saith St. Peter) seeking whom he may devour (1 Pet. v.). And does not the Pope do the same? Yes, certainly, for he not only ordains wicked and unjust laws, but he pursues to death all who have a true zeal and love towards God.
But to return to the primacy of Peter. I ask how many kingdoms St. Peter had under his dominion? For it was impossible that all kingdoms should be under him, when St. James was then bishop of Jerusalem, and that city then christian. Neither can I see how Peter should be the chief. For St. Paul says to the Corinthians, concerning the Apostles (1 Cor. viii.). All are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s. Likewise St. Peter calls himself by no other title (1 Pet. i.), but Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by which it is manifest, that we are not Peter’s, but Peter ours. Again, when Paul came to Antioch he withstood Peter to his face, because he was to be blamed (Gal. ii.) : which he would not have done if Peter had any such authority, or could not have lyed, as they say : but (as I have said thereupon) Paul, seeing the dis- simulation of Peter, said unto him, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of the Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? We, who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law, &c. Let us then see how it is possible that Peter should be chief ; for if he was principal, who loved Christ the best, it is evident that St. John would be the chief of the Apostles, for Christ appointed him to take care of his Mother, and John lay in the bosom of Jesus, whilst he supped (Joh. xix. ; Joh. xiii.).
But to the matter in hand, I ask, Whether a lawful council can be called but by the Pope? to which I am sure the papists will answer negatively. Then I ask if the Pope can call a council before his election, to which I know they will reply he cannot. If, then, no Council is lawful without a Pope, and that none who is labouring to be elected Pope can assemble a Council, then the Council which confirms the Pope superior over the Church is not lawful, because it was not convocated by a Pope, being there was then none elected. But being thus driven from the argument, they fly to another, and say that Christ commanded Peter to feed his sheep (Joh. xxi.) ; but he commanded all the rest to do the same (Mat. xxviii.), saying, Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in My name. But the Pope does not obey the commandment of Jesus Christ. For he doth not feed his sheep, but devours them like a roaring lion (I Pet. v.), who walks about to seek his prey. Now I wish the Pope would obey the commandment of God which he gave to St. Peter : for I should not regret his having authority to preach Christ to all the world, but he leaves the preaching of the gospel and usurps the authority of being head of the church, which of right belongs to none but Christ. ‘Tis true the Pope is primate of the church, but ’tis not the divine or Catholick Church, but the diabolical one. For he transgresses the commandment given in general to St. Peter and the rest of the Apostles. For when Christ sent his twelve Disciples to preach the gospel of repentance and the kingdom of God, he said (Mat. X.), Behold, I send you forth as sheep among wolves. But the bishop of Rome is like a wolf among sheep, eating and devouring the poor sheep of Christ, and when they are hid by fear he takes the voice of the sheep to betray and devour them. He excuses himself from preaching upon its being too low and mean an office for him, saying he hath lower officers and ministers for that work, whilst he is taken up with seeing and attending to the singing out of the masses. But I answer to the first, that if the office of preaching was not below St. Peter, who had received all his authority and power from Christ himself, methinks that those who call themselves the successors of Peter, should not esteem the office too mean for them.
St. Paul writes to Timothy what every Bishop ought to be (1 Tim. iii.) : A Bishop (saith he) must he blameless, the husband of one wife, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre, but one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity. Now let us arraign the Pope before St. Paul, and examine whether by St. Paul’s rule he be guilty or not. The first commandment to a bishop is to be blameless ; but we have proved that the bishop of Rome transgresses all the commandments of God, by which he stands guilty. The second is, that he be the husband of one wife, in which the bishop of Rome errs mightily ; for he allows concubines, and counts filthy fornication better than lawful and honest marriage. The third is that he should be sober, and full of wisdom and virtue, which the bishop of Rome very little observes. The fourth is that he be liberal, given to hospitality, not greedy of filthy lucre ; but the bishop of Rome is full of avarice and oppression. The fifth is that he be apt to teach, but our devil or diabolical father accounts maintaining the glory of God by preaching, is too mean an office for him, notwithstanding his predecessor Peter, either preached the gospel, or sinned against God in not observing that commandment (Mat. xxviii.). Go ye and preach the gospel over all the world. But he will imprison, slay, and burn those who do preach the word, and would himself be their executioner if he did not find others to do it in his stead, by which we may see that he loves himself more than he loves God. What shall I say more? He disobeys all the orders of St. Paul, give verdict therefore whether he be guilty or innocent.
But now we will proceed to their other arguments, and first to their maintaining Peter to be the chief, for which they allege his being commanded to feed the sheep (Joh. xxi.). To which I answer that all the Apostles were commanded as well as he to feed the sheep of Christ, in these words of the Gospel (Mat. xxviii.). Go ye all and preach, &c. For the preaching of the Gospel signifies nothing else but feeding the sheep. And their other argument is not more substantial, when they say, Peter was a fisher of men : for I say, Andrew and John were by the same authority made fishers of men; for fishers of men are really nothing but preachers of Christ.
Now if the preaching of the gospel be unlawful, without authority from Peter the Pope ; then the preaching of St. Paul was not lawful, because he did not receive the authority from Peter; notwithstanding the pope accounts himself a God, saying, I cannot lie, therefore I have spoken truth. To which I answer, that if he be not greater than Peter, he may lie ; for Peter denied Christ thrice (Mat. xxvi.), Peter then lied thrice; and St. Paul afterwards reproved him for his dissimulation (Gal. ii.). But the bishop of Rome lies notoriously, if in nothing else, but in his pretending to be the head of the Christian Church, and having the keys of heaven. For if the pope have the keys of heaven, make this query : when the pope is dead, and none hath the keys, how can any soul enter into heaven? No person till he be elected pope having the keys : whence it must follow, that the pope being dead, heaven’s gates are closed. But it is a folly to say that the pope hath the keys of heaven and hell, when Christ is our only mediator (1 Tim. ii.), our gate, Head, Shepherd, Redeemer, and sovereign Lord ; who (after he had taught, instructed, done many miracles, and suffered death for us (Matt, xxvii.), and pronounced salvation to all that believe on his name (Mark xvi.; Luke xxiv.; Joh. xix.; Mat. xxviii.), and from the power of his passion faithfully believes to be saved) ascended into heaven with great honour and glory, and is seated on the right hand of God his father, where he intercedes for us ; remaining for ever with his blessed father and the Holy Ghost, one God in Trinity, and three persons in Unity, full of power and virtue, and free from vice and sin; remaining with us by his spirit, and being in every respect equal with his father, till he shall come in glory to be judge of all the world (Eph. i. ; Heb. i., iv. ; Matt, xxv.), whose greatness is inscrutable, mercy unexpressible, and glory most inestimable ; He is our Governor and Master ; He is our Shepherd and Redeemer, and we are his subjects and sheep (Psal. xxii.); we are ransomed by his blood, and washed by the waters of baptism to show that we are his sheep (Joh. x.); none else is our pastor or Lord: neither the pope nor any on earth can be our Lord; else we should become a monster having two heads. Paul, writing to the Corinthians, says (1 Cor. iii.), that all is ours ; Peter, Apollos, and all the other apostles were ours, and we are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s ; whereby it appears that Peter is not a head but a minister unto us. Therefore we must esteem God our spiritual father, who by the passion of Christ, took from us all the pains of death and hell, to all who believe in him; that is the spirit of adoption whereby we cry Abba, Father (Rom. viii.) If the pope then will be called our spiritual father, we shall have three fathers, whereof the one is carnal, and two spiritual, neither can the pope be so, for as Christ is the immaculate lamb, and only son of God, endued with all power: on the other side, the pope is an unclean and ravenous wolf, and only son of the devil his father, from whom he hath received his authority and office.
But I would fain know whether the pope be our spiritual, carnal, or diabolical father. In the first place. I cannot allow he can be our carnal father, because he lives celibate, and makes a profession of chastity : neither can he be our spiritual father, being so addicted to the world, and worldliness ; then it follows that he must be our diabolical father. Let us, therefore, conclude, that it was said of Christ, Thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee (Psal. 2) ; God will say to the pope, Thou art my enemy, this day have I destroyed thee: and as Christ was of the order of Melchisedek (Psalm cx.), so the pope is of the order diabolic. But as Christianity is spiritually very good, and well designed; yet if there be not good order to preserve it, it must decay. As the body of a man could not be healthy with two heads, four arms, or four feet ; so these Christian countries could never well subsist under the distraction of two equal sovereigns. But some may question me then, and say, What then, you would not have any kings or emperors? But to that I answer, that God who sent his only son down into the world, made him king over it (Mat. i.), putting all spiritual and temporal authority into his hands (Psalm cx.); he by his sovereignty hath placed kings to be his lieutenants over the earth; but he hath not ordained any supreme bishop, for we find none so authorised by the Holy Scripture. Now if the papists say that the pope is heir to him, I would advise him then, to stay till Christ were dead before they seized upon his kingdom : because no heirs take the possession of their inheritances till after the death of their predecessors.
Moreover, the papists say, that as under the old law (Exod. iv.) there was a high priest, or archbishop of the Jews ; so there ought now to be a head or supreme minister amongst christians. To which I answer, that the priesthood of Aaron and Moses represented the supremacy of our Saviour Christ, not the Pope. For Christ who came down to the earth (Mat. i.) and suffered death for us, says of himself, that he was our Messias (John iv.), and that he was the true bread which came dawn from heaven (John vi.), and our only shepherd ; for St. John testifies that he says (John x.), I am the door; he that entereth not by me into the sheepfold, but climbeth some other way, is a thief; but he that entereth in by the door is the Shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter openeth, and the sheep hear his voice : And he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice ; and a stranger will they not follow. But the pope not coming by Christ is an abominable thief: therefore all true and good sheep ought to fly from him: for he comes to devour, not to feed them ; to prey upon them, not to instruct them. But the papists, being thus scourged with their own rod (to wit, with their own argument) say farther, that after the disciples had preached about the cities, after they returned to Jesus, he asked them: Whether they had any sword with them? and that they answered, Here are two swords. Now they urge farther, that the one of the swords signifies the spiritual, the other the temporal power: which reason (as shall be shewn hereafter) is selfish and vain. For first, we ought to consider from whence the apostles came; they had been sent (Mark vi.) to preach Christ to all people, and (Luke ix.) to shew the light to those that sat in darkness. Secondly, we must consider the power Christ had on earth, for he said himself, that his kingdom was not of this world; and there are two sorts of authority, the one spiritual and the other temporal. On which account St. Paul writes in his first epistle to the Corinthians (1 Cor. xii.) as the body is one, and hath many members, for several uses, so there are also in the church of Christ, amongst the spiritual ministers; first, apostles; secondarily, prophets ; thirdly, teachers; and some temporal ministers, as kings, emperors, governors, and lieutenants. Now Christ was a spiritual minister, as he testifies of himself, saying, My kingdom is not of this world. And again, when two brethren came unto him and requested him to divide their inheritance between them, he answered (Luke xii.), Man, who made me a judge or divider over you? The third thing to be considered is, that Christ spake to the disciples concerning the swords ironically. Fourthly, that all the apostles answered together, Behold here are two swords. Fifthly, you may observe in the text, that the apostles understood not what Christ meant.
By all which things we may easily understand that text; for after the apostles had been sent to preach the gospel of truth, when they returned to Jesus, he said unto them, Had you any sword with you then? (as much as to say). When I sent you first out, you would have staves with you, but now what do you think, hath not my grace kept you from all evil? or else, what need have you had of a sword? Then his disciples (not Peter only), understanding not what Christ said, answered, there were two swords.
By which we see Christ spoke ironically, and that all his disciples made answer, not Peter alone; as if he should say I have two swords, the one signifying my temporal authority, and the other signifying the spiritual jurisdiction; neither would nor could Christ give a temporal authority, forasmuch as he was a spiritual minister. And the Papists err extremely in one argument, where they say, that Cephas is a head, whereas in truth Cephas is a stone; (but when these their arguments were weakened) then they cry it is probable, that Peter was the chief apostle, because he spake first at that time concerning our dispute, and so answered in behalf of all the Apostles.
But it is more likely he was not the prince over the rest, because St. Paul says (1 Cor. xi.) For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles; for in nothing I am behind the very chiefest apostles (2 Cor. xii.) In which number Peter is comprised. Now we must not dispute what is most probably true, but what is most certainly true. Nevertheless, let us examine whether it be probable or not: for Andrew sometimes spake first, and it is not to be doubted but that each of them sometimes spake first; but it does not therefore follow that he who speaks sometimes first, must be bishop of the bishops : his first speaking at that time may signify that he was of a very courageous spirit; or else that he could have desired to have been the greatest : But Christ said (Matt, xviii. ; Luke i.) They that humble themselves like a little child shall be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven ; neither is there any lofty, proud title, in the kingdom or church of Christ, as you may see in that magnificate in Luke, for God loves humility (Rom. xii. ; Phil, ii.) ; and Christ says (Luke ix.) in Luke, If any man desire to be first, the same shall he the last of all and servant unto all. And in another evangelist, he saith (Matt, xviii.) Whoso receiveth one such little child in my name receiveth me; and unless ye become as little children, ye shall not be fit for the kingdom of heaven. Nor does Peter attribute so high a title to himself, as the Pope takes upon him. For he writes thus in his epistle (2 Pet. i.), Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, and no more. But the Pope what does he say? Paul the third by the grace of God, the most Holy Pope and Father, Deputy to Peter, and Vicar to Christ, King of Kings, Prince of Princes, Bishop of the Bishops, and God on earth. Behold, therefore, how he calls himself God, and blasphemes Christ. Behold how he is filled and puffed up with pride and vanity. Behold how large and fair a name and title he takes, though he be a venomous serpent, calling himself the most holy father, whereas he is a detestable thief, and contaminated with all uncleanness. He calls himself the pope, which word signifies father unto all nations, whilst he brings them to destruction. Nay, he calls himself the vicar of Christ, and deputy of St. Peter, and god upon earth ; whilst he is vicar to Beelzebub, deputy to Lucifer, and a terrestrial demon ; for he would seem to be very good, whilst he is very wicked. And it is no wonder if the ministers of the devil appear brave and triumphant outwardly, for St. Paul writes to the Corinthians (2 Cor. ii.), No marvel what false apostles, and deceitful workers can transform themselves into; Satan himself being transformed into an angel of light.
Wherefore you may easily discern the true ministers of the word from the false antichrists; because the true apostles walk after the spirit of God, and the false walk after the flesh. Let us, therefore, see whether the Pope be the minister of God, or of the devil ; which I fear he will prove ; proclaiming himself a good man, a most holy bishop, a king of kings ; whereas he is the tyrant of tyrants ; for all others exercise their tyranny over bodies, but this devil, wolf, tyrant, exercises his over the souls of men, constraining the poor and simple lambs of God to forsake their faith, whereby they are saved, to follow his abominable traditions and diabolical precepts. Which if they refuse to obey, to wit, adoring images, and offering to his idols and devils, he burns, racks, and torments them, or forces them to a costly recantation.
During the reign of my late father the king, when the pope’s name was blotted out of our books, he stopped the mouths of christians with his Six Articles, as if he would choke them.
And at this day in France, before any one is burnt, a little before the execution, they cut out his tongue, that they might not speak. Considering then that the Pope is the minister of Lucifer, I am in good hopes, that as Lucifer fell from heaven into hell, so the pope, his vicar, will fall from the great glory of the papacy into contemptible derision. For David hath said (Ps. xviii.) in the Psalms, With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure, and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself froward. Again, the Pope hath taken God’s honour away from him, therefore I hope God will divest him of his honours and glory. As Mary the mother of Jesus saith (Luke i.), He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. Take heed of thyself, then, O Pope, for if thou tumblest thou wilt have a terrible fall. As a man who has got up into a high tower would have a huge leap if he should fall down, so thou who hast exalted thyself unto the heavens, would fall down unto the abyss of hell, as Christ foretold of Tyre and Sidon (Matt. xi.).
But to return to the pope’s primacy. I know very well that the Scripture speaks of one God, one faith, one baptism (Eph. iv.; 1 Cor. viii. ; 1 Tim. ii.; Matt, xix.), but no mention of one Pope. Now if Peter had been a god on earth, and vicar of Christ, we should have been baptized into his name. But (2 Cor. xi. ; 2 Cor. xii.) Paul (who affirms himself to be inferior to none of the other apostles) will not allow us to be baptized into his name; nay he is so far from having us baptised into the name of Peter, that he will not have it said, I am of Peter, or of Paul, or of Apollos.
And now that the papists cannot prove by the Scriptures that we ought to have one pope, they run to similitudes, saying, that as the creatures in the earth (as the bees) have a king over them, so all Christians ought to have one king and pope. To which I will answer three ways. First, that their reason is not extracted from the Holy Scripture, but from their own invention. Secondly, that all the bees which are in the world, or in Christendom, have not one king. Thirdly, that if all bees have their king; so have we, to wit, Jesus Christ (Eph. i.).
But the papists will then say, that if we condemn the papacy, we shall condemn our forefathers as heretics. I will answer to that, as God answered Elijah (1 Kin. xix.) when he said to the Lord, that the children of Israel had forsaken his covenant, and were unjust and wicked, yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed to Baal. Neither must we imagine, but that there have been many Christians in the world, some of which have spoken openly against the papacy, and others that have kept their knowledge and sentiments to themselves; but the papists will not suffer us to know more than our fathers. But I know very well, that our religion consists not of old customs, or the usage of our fathers ; but in the Holy Scriptures, and Divine word. And that (if you think antiquity and custom makes a thing good) is older than the world. For God is the Word, who was without beginning (Joh. i.), and shall continue without end (Exod. ii.), and if you think truth ought to be followed and obeyed, all truth is contained in that book. Our religion ought not to be steered or governed by our forefathers : for Ezechiel saith (Ezech. xx.) Walk ye not in the statutes of your fathers, for they were polluted. Moreover, our God and Saviour, and Redeemer, Jesus Christ said (John xiv.), I am the way, and the truth, and the life: he did not say, I am the old custom.
The papists then say, that though Christ did not indeed ordain the pope, yet he left it to the church to do it. To which I ask, how Peter then was elected the universal bishop? For all things necessary to our salvation are written in the Bible; as St. Paul testifies (1 Tim. iii.) in his Epistle to Timothy, where he says, But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned, &c. And that from a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
The Second Part.
But to what purpose do we go about to prove that Peter is not the head of the Church? For allow he had been so, that does not conclude that the bishop of Rome is the principal head. For the papists themselves cannot prove that Peter was ever at Rome, because by the Scripture they cannot prove it ; nor by any true history. Therefore the bishop of Rome loses one of his great titles, of Papa ex jure Divino, for no authority can be ex jure Divino, unless it be confirmed by the Scripture. Well, then, we have him in a great plunge, since he must be forced to say, Paul, pope by human traditions ; for if he be not bishop by the divine word, but only by human traditions then all kings, princes, and other magistrates, may abrogate the statutes and institutions made by their fathers, as we have seen before. If every one then had known this, the pope had been poor long ago. Now the papists say, that the bishop of Rome was instituted by the primitive church; but no more than Mahomet, for they begun near the same age, and the pope was elected when all manner of wicked errors were advanced in Christendom.
Nevertheless to prove that Peter was at Rome, they produce the Clementine Epistles ; but we will prove them counterfeited, and falsified by the Papists. For in them it is written that Peter was at Rome, in the second year of the reign of Claudius, and lived there twenty-five years; but Christ was crucified in the eighteenth year of Tiberius, and he reigned five years after the Crucifixion. Caius Caligula reigned four years, and Claudius two, which makes it eleven years before Peter went to Rome. And in the eighteenth year of our Lord, Paul found St. Peter in Jerusalem (Gal. i.) ; by which we see their history is false. And we will prove that it is not true that Clement wrote these epistles unto James, for James was dead before Clement was bishop. Moreover, St. Peter was the bishop of the Jews, and not of the Gentiles (Gal. ii): for St. Paul glories in several places that he was the Apostle of the Gentiles. Again St. Paul writing to the Galatians says (Gal. i.) that he went up to Jerusalem to see Peter; therefore it is most probable, that Peter dwelt for the most part in Jerusalem, or in the adjacent cities. And here we may see the craft of the devil and the power of God; for notwithstanding the devil (to establish his power) invented the Clementine Epistles (though they be counterfeited by the papists); yet I say, God by his goodness and clemency towards his elect, hath caused the said epistles to be so written, that every one who hath read history, may plainly comprehend and understand, that they were feigned by serpentine subtilty, and by some abominable and obdurate papists.
In several other instances also, we may discover their false subtilty; for notwithstanding that the Holy Scripture saith, idols are senseless things and without life, they have often framed images which sometimes rolled their eyes, sometimes turned their heads, sometimes moved their hands, and sometimes their whole bodies; by which means they made people believe, that an image made of wood, heard and understood them; all of it being made so to the life, that (as they turned them) they made the head and eyes of the image to turn also. But as Daniel with ashes or sand, proved the idol Bel did not eat, but his priests; so by the Holy Scriptures, the confession of several persons, and by observation and experience, they have been proved to have been mere machines, and other instruments.
The Third Part.
Since we see that Peter neither was the chief, nor was at Rome (considering that they say the Pope cannot lie), we will examine whether they themselves have not acknowledged that no person ought to be the primate of the Church.
For Gregory the first hath written, that none ought to be Pope. Gregory was then bishop of Rome, and Maurice was emperor, and there were many heretics in Christendom; and the bishop and patriarch of Constantinople, at that time pretended to be the universal bishop, who was much favoured by Maurice. But Gregory declared then in his writings, that there ought to be no principal in the Church.
And now the papists are overthrown by this; they say that by the consent of the General Councils, and doctors, an universal bishop was established under the name of pope : whereas for four or five hundred years after Christ, there was no person in the world that was distinguished or called by that name. Moreover, when there were several contentions about the papacy, all learned persons detested the opinion that there must be a pope : and sometimes the very bishops of Rome themselves abhorred it. And St. Cyprian,* [* Cyprian, De Simplicitate Prelatorum.] writing concerning the unity of the Church, saith, There is one bishop, of whom every bishop holds a share. For as there are many beams in the sun, yet the brightness is but one : many branches in a tree : several streams from a fountain ; in like manner, the Church is but one, which being illuminated by the brightness of our Lord, who extends his beams throughout all the world, yet nevertheless the clarity is but one, to wit, Jesus Christ. Likewise the same Cyprian+, [+Cyprian, Epist. ad Corn.] being bishop of Carthage, calls the bishop of Rome his companion. Moreover St. Jerome, ++ [++ Jerom, Epist. ad Evag.] bishop of Rome, humbles the style of primate, saying, if there be any question of the authority of a primate of the church, although there are bishops of nations and cities, it follows not therefore that there is a primate over all the world, for the world is much greater than any city. And also in the Council of Carthage it was decreed, that none should he called the first or primate of the bishops. What shall I say more? It was consented and agreed by all,* [*August. Ep. 28 ad Const.] for six hundred years after Christ, that none ought to be Pope. How could Peter then have been primate, or the Pope his successor? For Peter in his Epistles does not command, but pray and beseech the ministers of God. Likewise when he is accused for having communicated with the Gentiles (Acts xi.), he does not burn his accusers, as the Pope does his: but excuses himself, and shews a submission.
Again, when he was sent to Samaria by his brethren and companions (Acts viii.) he readily obeyed their decree and went down to that City.
The Fourth Part.
Of this detestable and diabolical pope, the holy Scriptures in several places give us a plenary demonstration; some of which I shall shew unto you. As first, in the fourth of Daniel, it is set down how that Daniel (that was beloved by Belshazzar) saw a vision, which appeared to him thus : I saw, says Daniel, in my vision by night, and behold the four winds of heaven strove upon the great sea, and four great beasts came up out of the earth ; the first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings ; and I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and a man’s heart was given to it. The second beast was like unto a bear, and it raised up itself on one side ; and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh. The third was like unto a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl, and the said beast had also four heads. After this I beheld the fourth beast, which was dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly ; and it had great iron teeth; and devoured everything; and it had ten horns. And behold, there came up among them another little horn, Before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots ; and it had eyes, and a mouth, speaking blasphemies. And I beheld till I saw the Ancient of Days did sit, and I beheld, saith Daniel, till the judgment was set for the horn, and till the beast was slain, and his body given to the burning fame : and it shall be for a time, times, and a half. Now the four winds and the four beasts (as Melanethon, OEcolampadius, and all the learned writers say) signify the four monarchies; the first was that of the Assyrians, whereof Nebuchadnezzar was emperor ; who (after he had been made like unto the beasts for a long season) had the understanding of a man given him again. The second signified the empire of the Persians, which was a dominion of great cruelty. The third notified the Grecian Empire, which was immediately raised to its grandeur ; and the four wings, and four heads signify the four emperors, who succeeded Alexander, and divided among them the Grecian monarchy.
For Seleucus was made king of Syria, Ptolemy got Egypt, Antigonus Asia, and Cassander Greece. The fourth beast signifies the terrible monarchy of the Romans, out of which arises a little horn, which is Antichrist; and Antichrist hath two eyes, viz., the pope and Mahomet; for notwithstanding that the pope doth not speak against Christ (as Mahomet doth), nevertheless I answer that the pope is as much, or rather more an Antichrist than Mahomet. For as he who flatters us is our enemy (though he seems to be our friend), so the pope, who styles himself the servant of the servants of God, is the enemy of Christ; whilst under the shadow of religion, he puts in practice all hypocrisy, idolatry, dissimulation, and all sorts of traditions ; his time shall be a time, times, and a half; that is to say, his days shall be shortened. For the number seven stands for a perfect number in Scripture ; for St. Paul says, the just fall seven times a day ; to wit, often. Now the half of seven is three and-a-half; therefore we must interpret by that imperfect time, that those days shall be shortened. St. Paul also in two Epistles prophesies of the pope. First, writing to the Thessalonians, he says (2 Thess. ii.), Now we beseech you brethren, by the coining of our Lord, that ye be not soon shaken in mind or be troubled, neither by spirit nor by word nor by letter, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means, for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the Son of Perdition ; who opposeth and exalteth himself above God, so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, &c. Again, St. Paul, writing to Timothy (1 Tim. iv.) speaks thus : Now the spirit speaketh expressly that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to doctrines of devils, speaking lies in hypocrisy, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe.
Now let every one be asked if the Pope hath not forbidden certain meats at certain times, and they must all confess he hath, for most folks have felt it ; or perchance I should not be a liar if I said that almost all folks have. And concerning the prohibition of marriage, ask their own priests. St. Peter tells us that there shall come in the last days, scoffers, &c. (2 Pet. iii.). St. John, in the Apocalypse, says (Apo. xvi.) : Seven angels poured out the vials of God’s wrath upon the earth : and the signification is probable to be thus. The first vial to be the Assyrian Monarchy, when the people of Israel became captive to Nebuchadnezzar. The second the Persian Monarchy. The third the Monarchy of the Grecians, which Alexander first established. The fourth was the Roman Monarchy, which the Apocalypse (because of its grandeur) says, the fourth vial was poured upon the sun. The fifth is our Antichrist, the pope. The sixth vial is the dominion of Mahomet. The seventh vial signifies the end of the world, and the day of judgment.
In the following chapter he declares that one of the Seven Angels came and talked with him, and showed him the state, honour, and riches of the pope ; for he says, (Apo. xvii.) he saw A woman sit upon the beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns ; and the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold, having a golden cup in her hand, full of abominations and filthiness of her fornications ; and upon her forehead was written, Babylon, the mother of harlots, and abominations of the earth. The seven heads signify the seven hills which Antichrist dwells on (Apo. xvii.) for Rome is built upon seven mountains. The ten horns are the number of the kings who made war with the lamb, and the lamb overcame them, for he is Lord of Lords, and King of Kings. Then another angel came down from heaven (Apo. xviii.) crying, Babylon is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils; thence I hope that the kingdom of Antichrist shall be destroyed. For, though the wicked may prosper for a time, their dominion shall not last ; but those who study the law of the Lord, their prosperity shall last for ever. St. Paul, writing to Timothy (1 Tim. iii.) says, This know also, that in the last days, men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, &c. And the prophet Isaiah saith (Isa. xi.) that Christ shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.
Since we see, then, that the reign of Antichrist shall not last for ever, we must wait for the destruction of Babylon, and submit ourselves to the will of the Lord.
In the first part of our book, we have proved and declared that Peter was not primate of the Church, by confuting all the papistical reasons for it.
In the second, we have proved that they cannot produce and allege any true testimony that St. Peter was at Rome.
In the third part we have proved from themselves that they have said they ought not to have the primacy.
In the fourth part, we have explained the prophecies speaking of Antichrist. Since, then, the pope is that wicked one–very son of the devil, an Antichrist, and an abominable tyrant ; let us pray unto the Lord to preserve those still in the light who have seen it, and that He will show the sincere, pure, and true light unto those who sit in darkness ; that all the world may glorify God in this life, and be partakers of the eternal Kingdom of Heaven in the world to come, by the merits of Jesus Christ our Saviour; to whom with the Father, and the Holy Ghost, be all honour, glory, dominion, and praise, for ever and ever. Amen.